SPOKANE — The man who shot an undercover federal agent at a Spokane motel during a botched gun robbery attempt will spend more than 20 years in federal prison.
Randy James Holmes apologized to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms agent, who attended the sentencing with his wife and five children, before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice handed down his sentence of 249 months on Thursday.
“I am horribly, horribly sorry for everything,” Holmes, clad in a yellow Spokane County Jail jumpsuit and wearing a pair of eyeglasses, said.
Rice ruled that Holmes could not have known he was shooting at a federal officer during the incident, which took place in a Motel 6 parking lot in west Spokane in November 2021. The finding reduced his prison sentence by several years.
“This highly trained government agent did everything he could to come off as a gang member,” Holmes’ attorney, Bryan Hershman, told Rice.
A video of the shooting, recorded from a camera inserted in the cigarette lighter of the car belonging to the agent, shows the agent pull a handkerchief covered with cannabis leaves over his face just before Holmes gets in the car. He addresses Holmes as “dog” and “homey” and asks that the deal be moved to a parking lot nearby, because Holmes arrived with two other men whom the agent knew to be armed.
Holmes starts to exit the car, then points a gun at the agent’s head. Holmes then gets out of the car to retrieve a gun on the back seat. The agent also leaves the car, demands that Holmes drop his gun but does not announce himself as an agent before gunfire and sirens erupt.
The agent told Rice he was lucky to be alive after the shooting. One of the bullets fired by Holmes hit him in the left leg, breaking it and narrowly missing his femoral artery, which could have been fatal.
“I’m not mad at him today,” the agent told Rice. “I haven’t been mad since that day. It’s over.”
His wife, who was nine months pregnant with the couple’s fifth child at the time her husband was shot, told Holmes she forgave him, though the shooting had caused continued trauma and questions and fear from their kids, all younger than age 9.
“God saved both of them,” the wife said of her husband and Holmes. “God loves both of them equally.”
Two other men that accompanied Holmes to the gun buy, Vincent Petrushkin and William Burns, fled the scene and were later arrested. Prosecutors said all the men were involved in a violent Mexican American gang, though Holmes has said he’s tried to repudiate the gang and sought imprisonment at a facility in Indiana that provides treatment for those attempting to leave a gang.
Burns provided the gun that Holmes used to shoot the agent. Burns pleaded guilty to one count of transferring a firearm to a prohibited person, because Holmes was a convicted felon. He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.
Petrushkin pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. At the time of the shooting, he was serving probation on an assault conviction. He was sentenced to four years in prison. He’s being held at a high-security federal prison in Kentucky, according to Bureau of Prisons records.
In a statement after the sentencing, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington Vanessa Waldref commended the agent, his family and colleagues for their work addressing gang violence.
“This tragic case demonstrates the danger and violence that too frequently occurs when convicted felons possess firearms and engage in illegal drug trafficking,” Waldref said.
Prosecutors had sought a 24-year sentence for Holmes, arguing that he’d knowingly shot an agent because Petrushkin and Burns testified they believed the gun purchaser was an undercover officer. But in court records, Holmes’ attorney argued the undercover agent’s beliefs about the danger of the situation were influenced by a woman working with law enforcement as a confidential informant. She arranged the deal and got out of the car blocks away from where the shooting took place.
That woman had been in a romantic relationship with Holmes and was herself tied to gangs.
Rice added two years to the sentence because Holmes was on court supervision and living in a halfway house on an unrelated gun charge when he was arrested following the shooting.
Editor’s note: The agent in this case requested after the hearing that his name be left out of courtroom proceedings because of the case’s involvement of known gang members. The attorney representing Holmes said that request was fair. The Spokesman-Review typically publishes the names of those who give testimony in open court but has made the decision to withhold the agent’s name in this story.